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Publisher's Summary

If your funny older sister were the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, her behind-the-scenes political memoir would sound something like this. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? is an intimate and admiring portrait of a president, a candid book of advice for young women, and a promising debut from a savvy political star.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Alyssa Mastromonaco (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A candid and charming memoir of her unexpected career in government.... The memoir abounds with intimate glimpses of Washington, D.C., celebrities (Biden, Clinton, Michelle Obama, and scores more) and cheerfully dispensed survival strategies. An entertaining look inside the White House." ( Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 04-06-17

Engaging and funny

This is the autobiography/memoir of Alyssa Mastromonaco. She starts off telling about growing up in a small town in Vermont. While attending the University of Vermont she did her summer internship with Bernie Sanders. After college she worked for Senator John Kerry then obtained a job with Senator Barack Obama. When Obama became President, she became the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President. She was the youngest women to assume this office.

The author provides a look inside how presidential campaigns are run and what it is like to work in the White House. For those planning on a job in politics, she provides some pointers and a few examples are…. “always be prepared”, “Know as much as possible about the people you meet”,… “Be polite”… “Take responsibility for your mistakes”.

The book is easy to read but did not follow a chronological order which was a bit confusing at times. I enjoyed the humor but what I did not enjoy was the profanity. If you are curious about politics or thinking about working in politics, you will enjoy this book.

The book is about six hours long. The author narrated the book.

46 of 54 people found this review helpful

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Humorous, insightful, and empowering

Any additional comments?

If you are looking for a book that is humorous, insightful, and empowering to women in leadership this is a great one for you. I think if you liked Tina Fey's and Mindy Kaling's books, you'll like this one too. I'm almost done with the audible version and love it!

50 of 59 people found this review helpful

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A woman works for obama

Enjoyable read that provides insight into how the White House and Barack work. Really made me miss Obama. He called her when her cat died, for gods sake! Imagine the orangutan doing that

96 of 117 people found this review helpful

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Better than expected!

I don't recall how I stumbled upon this book in Audible, but it was interesting, inspiring and laugh out loud funny! Worth the listen. I may listen again, it was that good.

28 of 36 people found this review helpful

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Very Insightful

Alyssa was very transparent as she walked you through the life of a staffer. As a Navy Staff Officer, I see a lot of similarities and sincerely appreciate her perspective. Being a staffer can be challenging so hearing how she navigated the various pitfalls was funny and insightful. I have already shared this book.

21 of 27 people found this review helpful

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Who thought this was a good idea?

Sorry, I was expecting more meat and less bodily function. The narrator/author read in a sing-song voice. To me, that is nails on a blackboard.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Self-deprecating soon becomes boring

What disappointed you about Who Thought This Was a Good Idea??

It was interesting at first but the content was too petty, too trivial to grab my attention. It was "cute" and cute is not what I would look for in a book.

What could Alyssa Mastromonaco and Lauren Oyler have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Half the length of the book. She spent x minutes talking about installing a tampon dispenser in the White House. I don't see why that would be interesting for x minutes.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

It was not so much the narrating as it was the content itself.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Who Thought This Was a Good Idea??

An audiobook is not the platform for these stories, a talk show perhaps.

Any additional comments?

Not for me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Tampons, IBS and cats

I was disappointed with this book. I’m sure Alyssa has a lot of interesting experiences working with Obama and in the White House. Unfortunately she spends little time sharing them, but rather talking about her period and constant lack of tampons (why didn’t she just fill a closet with them, rather than just leaving a couple of them at the office, knowing well she always runs out?). A lot of time is also spent talking about her suffering from IBS (due to stress) and a lot about her cat (who cares??). Really a lot of chit chat and “women’s problems” which is OK, but not interesting to me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A must read for every young woman

This is the perfect book for every young woman. Especially when you want to go into politics, or plan another big career. What makes this book so great is that Alyssa is so relatable, she writes about the big meetings with Obama she had, her love for cats and everything in between. You can be a woman with a big career and still be a crazy cat lady. This is an unique insight in the head of someone who looks like she has it all together, but on the inside is just as insecure as all of us.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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An honest, entertaining account of political life

More of a "how to survive working in politics" guide than a political memoir, Alyssa Mastromonaco's recounting of her time with Senator, Candidate and finally President Barack Obama is a must read for anyone contemplating -- or currently struggling through -- a life as a political staffer.
Punctuated by personal stories and poignant advice throughout, Mastromonaco honestly details the difficulty of achieving a work life balance in the fast-paced world of politics. Though I imagine this story will be particularly helpful to women climbing the corporate or political ladder, "Who Thought this Was a Good Idea" should be on the top of any political geek's reading list, or that of anyone who looking to be entertained, informed and inspired.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Casey
  • 05-18-17

Funny, smart & inspiring in the best way

Warm, funny & very human.
I basically want Alyssa to be my new best friend because she manages to make one of the most stressful jobs in the word seem like an absolute privilege (which it is, I guess).
She's warm, funny as hell - all while being grounded & practical.
The book is lovely to listen to- like listening to a friend and it's filled with great stories about her time at the White House that make the very idea of working in government & politics seem attainable & positive instead of the usual political memoir filled with backstabbing manoeuvring.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • cg
  • 09-15-17

entertaining

good book ..light and entertaining and good insight into life at the White House and commitment involved in same .

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  • Joules
  • 07-29-17

Great insight into an interesting world

Really enjoyed this audiobook. It provided a really human take on a world that most look at in awe.

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  • GF
  • 05-27-17

brilliant

brilliant. benefits from narration by the author. really enjoyable. and thought provoking. well worth listening to.

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  • Wendy R.
  • 04-17-17

Smart, funny and insightful

Loved loved loved Alyssa's story. Really interesting perspective of politics at the highest level rarely told by a younger woman. Really appreciated the "boots and all" detail on the challenges of juggling monthly menstruation and IBS in a crazy busy job. We have all experienced this in some way and it was great to hear it told so honestly. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • plukni
  • 04-01-17

Enlightening and encouraging! Thanks Mastromonaco!!

Provides a great look into the world of politics as a young person and as a woman.
Having worked in a head of state's office I found this particularly relatable; the stories and feelings.
I loved the anecdotes such as the tampons in the White House (who'd have thought!!) to the crazy of organising events at the last minute that you miss out on other stuff such as the fancy dinners but you don't mind because you actually love the crazy.
Thanks for being inspiring!! It's hard adjusting after working in that kind of environment; I often look back on my experiences and want to go back for all the reasons raised in this book.

I'm glad you wrote this; and that Oyler helped tackle it (and that you explained it!!) I'm glad I read the Lenny article and heard about this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tampil
  • 07-01-17

Unexpectedly insightful

There is a lot you can learn from first-person narrative of an important but less vogue individual, who, with her chief position, made sure the public sees only the best of the more conspicuous person/group in their primary activities. Also, I love your sense of humour Alyssa!

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  • Kat
  • 05-03-17

so interesting and enjoyable.

this book was an easy listen - a down to earth look into a relatively unrealised element of the US political scene